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Release Date: 05/18/2009

CR Money Special: Haggling For Everything Is New Rule in a Down Economy

Poll finds success rates as high as 83 percent for hagglers who ask for a discount

CRM-Rebuild Your Finances Cover YONKERS, NY — Negotiating for everything in a lousy economy is the new rule, according to the latest money publication from Consumer Reports titled “Rebuild Your Finances.” Paying the sticker price for a product or service may be paying too much. In fact, a new poll by Consumer Reports found that more than 66 percent of Americans have tried to negotiate for a better deal in the past six months.

CR’s nationally representative poll found that most consumers who asked for a discount were successful. Among those who haggled, 83 percent negotiated better deals on hotel rates, 81 percent reduced their cell phone bills, and 81 percent went home paying less for clothing.

Hagglers were also able to obtain better deals on other services: 79 percent scored lower prices on jewelry, 78 percent did better on new car purchases and on airfares, and 75 percent haggled for better prices on an appliance purchase.

While it may be a little harder to strike a deal, the poll found hagglers were almost as successful getting discounts on electronics (71%), furniture (71%), credit-card fees (62%) and medical bills (58%).

“Now is not the time to be shy. It may feel awkward to ask the salesperson for a discount, but it’s more important than ever to make the most of your money. Our poll shows there is a very good chance they won’t say no,” said Greg Daugherty, Consumer Reports executive editor.

Consumer Reports poll also found that only 28 percent of Americans say they always haggle or often haggle over prices. Constant hagglers of the past sixth months tended to be younger consumers—more than a third (37%) of those under the age of 35 always or often asked for discounts—significantly more than older shoppers.

Negotiating for everything is just one of the new money rules for a new economy thatConsumer Reports tackles in its Rebuild Your Finances special publication. The guide offers consumers more than 328 smart ways to boost savings, cut bills, secure their career, pay for college, and move ahead in the toughest economy of the past century.

Perfecting your approach can boost your haggling success rate. Consumer Reports Rebuild Your Finances special publication offers shoppers the following tips to improve their haggling skills:

  • Be patient and be nice. Demanding a discount rarely works. Savvy negotiators know that a smile is more difficult to resist than tough talk.
  • Time your haggle. Late in the month, when salespeople are trying to meet their quotas, can be a good time to bargain for big ticket items. Evening or early hours are usually less busy, so clerks have time to talk.
  • Avoid an audience. Haggle out of earshot of other customers. Sales clerks don’t want everyone else in the store asking for a deal too.  Keep in mind that at chain stores, salespeople often don’t have the power to offer a discount. Try asking a manager or supervisor instead.
  • Know before you go. Research prices and store policies. Bring Web printouts, flyers, and newspaper ads with you. Mention if a local competitor is selling the item for less. The store might be willing to match your best quote. If you can’t get a price discount, ask for free shipping, delivery, or installation.
  • Learn to read the ticket. Price of inventory tags often contain date stamps that tell how long an item has been in the store, though you might need to ask a salesperson to help you locate and decipher the code. Retailers are often more willing to cut the price on merchandise that has been on the sales floor for a long time.
  • Offer to pay cash. Merchants don’t like to pay transaction fees to credit-card companies. Such fees are about 2 percent for larger retailers and as much as 8 percent for small ones.
  • Be prepared to walk. The most persuasive weapon you have in your haggling arsenal is your ability to walk away and spend your money someplace else.

For more information on haggling, the new money rules for today’s economy, how to spend less on practically anything, managing debt, improving credit scores, and recession-proofing your career, check outConsumer Reports Money Rebuild Your Finances special publication available on newsstands starting May 19 or visit the bookstore at www.ConsumerReports.org.

Consumer Reports Haggling Poll Methodology
The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a telephone survey of a nationally representative probability sample of telephone households. 1,002 interviews were completed among adults aged 18+.  Interviewing took place over April 30 to May 3, 2009.  The margin of error is +/- 3.2% points at a 95% confidence level.

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